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tv   CBS Evening News With Russ Mitchell  CBS  January 9, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PST

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>> congresswoman giffords is able to communicate with us this morning through following simple commands. >> mitchell: tonight cautious optimism about the prospects for arizona congresswoman gabrielle giffords. critically wounded during yesterday's tragedy in tucson. i'm russ mitchell. 22-year-old jared loughner is charged with attempted assassination and first-degree murder in the mass shooting which has sparked a nationwide soul search over the tone of america's political debate. president obama is calling for a moment of silence tomorrow to honor all the victims including the six people who died. among them a federal judge, a congressional aide and a 9-year-old girl who was born on 9/11. >> my daughter had nine beautiful years with us and that is what we are going to remember. captioning sponsored by cbs
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this is the "cbs evening news" with russ mitchell. >> and good evening. there are new questions about yesterday's shooting spreeing in tucson that left six dead and 12 wounded. and tonight there is more debate about the political climate that may have been a factor in the massacre. here's the latest. congresswoman gabrielle giffords remains in critical condition after being shot in the head yesterday. the suspect in the case 22-year-old jared loughner was charged this afternoon with murder and attempted assassination. and congress has suspended all votes this week in observance of the tragedy. we begin tonight with ben tracy is tucson with the latest. ben, good evening. >> reporter: russ, the congresswoman is here tonight at this hospital in tucson and despite this bullet tearing through her brain, her doctors say they are truly encouraged by her progress. meanwhile investigators found some pretty chilling information today at the home of the alleged suspect. they found two things. they found a letter from the congresswoman to the alleged shooter thanking him for
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coming to an event of hers back in 2007. and they also found an envelope on which they think the alleged shooter wrote the congresswoman's name and the words "my assassination" >> 2w 2-year-old jared lee loughner is now in fbi custody. authorities say he went won a savage rampage saturday morning, shooting 20 people and killing six, including a federal judge. >> how many people are injured there? >> we have a total of 10 people, maybe more. >> oh my god. >> reporter: investigators believe loughner shot congresswoman gabrielle giffords in the head at point-blank range. after two hours of surgery yesterday, she remains sedated. >> we are still, still in critical condition. brain swelling at any time can take a turn for the worse. but i am cautiously optimistic. >> reporter: gifford's congress on your corner event saturday at this local grocery store turned into complete chaos when bullets started flying. >> he shot her first. he came up and perfectly shot her-- purposefully shot
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her first and began shooting everybody in the area who were supporters of hers. >> reporter: witnesses say the gunman casually approached her at the table and shot her from about three feet away. he then began shooting everyone in sight. while he was trying to reload, a woman pulled the ammunition clip away. he was finally subdued as two men wrestled him to the ground. dr. kevin rail played dead to avoid being shot and then helped hold the shooter down. >> he was very frightening, especially coming from such a young guy. >> reporter: authorities say loughner was firing a 9 millimeter semiautomatic pistol. it holds 30 rounds. cbs news has learned he bought it legally at this tucson sporting good store last fall. that is about the time classmates at his local community college say loughner started acting irradically. he was reportedly suspended and told to get a mental health evaluation. >> federal law enforcement officials are now pouring over a series of often incoherent on-line videos loughner ask thought to have made. he talks about a new form of
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currency and not trusting the government because they use mind control to brainwash people. fbi director robert mueller is now in tucson overseeing the investigation. >> and to do everything that we can to ensure that our elected officials and the citizens we serve are safe. >> reporter: detectives seized a compute frere loughner's home in a quiet neighborhood about ten minutes from the shooting. officials say there is evidence he may have been tracking congresswoman giffords and even attended an event of hers in 2007 at which he asked her a question. giffords, a moderate democrat, was re-elected in november. her support for the new health care law made her a target. and her tucson office was vandallized last spring when the reform bill-passed. but the fbi has not yet linked any of that heated political rhetoric to this shooting. in fact, they say they're not exactly sure what the specific motive would be for this shooter to target this congresswoman in particular. so the question tonight, is still why. russ. >> mitchell: ben, earlier today detectives were
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looking for a so-called person of interest. what is the latest on that? >> reporter: well, at first they thought he might have been someone who had helped loughner pull off this shooting. in fact, it turns out he was simply a cabdriver who dropped him off at the grocery store and has now been cleared by the fbi. >> mitchell: ben tracy in tucson, thank you very much. >> congressional intern daniel hernandez is being called a hero for his role in yesterday's shooting. the college junior was just days on the job when he rushed to help congresswoman giffords. and he joins us this evening from the university medical centre in tucson. daniel, good evening. >> good evening, how are you. >> mitchell: i'm doing fine, sir. take me back to yesterday, if you will. you are at the event. you hear gunshots. what did you do next? >> i was about 30 to 40 feet away around the corner helping sign people in for the event. so i tried to rush towards where the congresswoman would be. >> reporter: when you got to the congresswoman what condition was she in? what did you do? >> when i got 209 congresswoman there from a few other people who were down. so the first thing i did was to check pulses and to see
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if they were still breathing. i was able to check two or three people before i got to the congresswoman and i noticed the severity of her injuries. it looked like she had been hit in the head. so she then became my top priority. so the first thing i did was to try and get her up so that she wasn't slumped over, in any danger of breathing in her own blood because she was bleedinging pro fusely. the next thing i did was to make sure that i applied pressure to her wound to try and stem the flow of blood. >> mitchell: we have a picture of you holding congresswoman gifford's hand as she is being taken away on the stretcher. during the time you were with her, what did you say to her and did she say anything to you? >> she wasn't talking to me at that time. however, she was communicating by squeezing my hand when i would ask her a question. but the main thing i was trying to do after the emts came was to try and give her some comfort and try and just let her know that someone what was with her. >> mitchell: it has obviously been an emotional
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124 hours for you. how are you doing, how is the congresswoman's staff doing? >> i am doing well. as best as could be expected with the type of thing that happened over the last 24 hur-- 24 hours but just really saddened by the people still wounded. not just the staff but also the other victims who were constituents of congresswoman giffords. and the staff is doing as well as could be expected with what has been happening over the last day. >> mitchell: daniel hernandez, we thank you so much for sharing your story with us. >> thank you so much, russ. >> mitchell: well, more insight into the injuries congresswoman giffords has sustained. we are joined by early show medical correspondent dr. jennifer ashton at the university medical centre in tucson. jennifer what is the latest on the congresswoman's condition? >> russ, i just spoke with dr. michael, chief of neurosurgery at the university of arizona medical centre and one of the surgeon was operated on the congresswoman. he did tell me that she remains in critical condition. she is heavily sedated. he's encouraged about her prognosis but he is
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concerned medically and surgery withically issues in particular. >> the first is probably swelling in the brain, somethinging we have a hard time controlling at times. the second is more bleeding in the brain. you can imagine if someone punches you in the shoulder, you get a little bit of swelling but the next day it starts to bruise. the brain is no different. bruising is microscopic bleeding and the third could be infection because we have pieces of bullet and bone that we don't retrieve and all of those are potential sources of infection, although less than you would think. >> reporter: there is a team of about 20 or 30 doctors, surgeons, specialists and nurses taking care of the congresswoman in the intensive care unit here, monitoring her around the clock. in terms of the location of the injury, russ, the surgical team will tell us only that the bullet entered in the left rear part of the brain, exited through the left front part of the brain, and miraculously spared any major blood vessels. >> mitchell: okay, jennifer ashton in tucson, thank you
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so much. we appreciate it. >> by far the youngest victim of yesterday's attack was christina taylor green, a grade school student who had only wanted to see american politics firsthand. john blackstone has her story. >> reporter: from the children's choir at church, to a tucson little league field, one young face was missing today, nine-year-old christina taylor green. the youngest person to die in this american tragedy was also born on a day of tragedy. september 11th, 2001. her father, john green. >> she was born and she left us in very tragic moments in united states history here. her life wasn't all like that. >> reporter: christina's picture was one of those in a book of babies born on 9/11 called faces of hope. and christina's life was filled with dreams. >> she intelligent, she had
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lots of thoughts on what she was going to do in the future, being a veterinarian, a politician, an artist. she wanted to play professional baseball. >> reporter: baseball runs in christina's family. her father is a scout for the los angeles dodgers. her grandfather is dallas green who pitched in the major leagues and is a former manager of the philadelphia phillies. christina was the only girl mike cojanski coached on his little league team. >> i can think of times that she hit the ball during games and you look at her face and her smile. and now we don't get to do that any more. >> reporter: she was interested in politics too. partly inspired by the accident of her birth date and had just been elected to her school student council. that is why a family friend invited her to meet congresswoman gabrielle giffords yesterday. down the street the shots fired in the supermarket parking lot were heard clearly at the church where christina sang in the youth
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choir. for those left behind, the pain of losing one so young and so full of promise is too great to measure. >> i don't know what my son is going to do without-- without his best friend. >> reporter: john blackstone, cbs news, tucson. >> mitchell: five other people lost their lives in yesterday's burst of gunfire. as dean reynolds tells us, they came to yesterday's outdoor event in tucson by very different paths. >> reporter: they were lost in a blur of violence from a judge to a janitor, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. dorothy morris and phil list schek ro eck were both in their 70s though in the aftermath of the shooting we know little about them. we know more about gain zimmerman a 30-year-old communication staffer for congresswoman gifford. >> he knew the congresswoman's positions but like the congresswoman he also was a people person. so he was, you know, a 30-year-old guy who was wise
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beyond years and dedicated and loyal and determined. and he was there to help people. >> reporter: at the mountain avenue church of christ here in tucson the congregation mourned the loss of dorwin stoddard the much loved 76-year-old maintenance man who recently built this human in the sanctuary for children. he died saturday in the arms of his wife, who was also wounded in the mellee. >> when he dove down to take her out of the way, he fell on her and he died about 7 minutes after he was shot and she was talking to him and trying to console him and comfort him. and yet she knew he was dead before they took him to the hospital. >> reporter: and there was federal judge john roll who went to church on saturday as he always did, and then faithfully headed over to see his friend the congresswoman. >> he was a wise and compassionate and generous jurist. one of those people that you meet in your life who didn't have an enemy. >> reporter: in fact, none of them had known enemies which attests to the random
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nature of the violence that took their lives. russ. >> mitchell: dean reynolds in tucson, thank you. president obama has called for a moment of silence at 11:00 a.m. tomorrow eastern time to honor victims of the shooting. and the house has postponed all scheduled legislative action for the week. congressional correspondent nancy cordes has more now on washington's second thoughts on the rise of angry rhetoric, good evening. >> reporter: a rather extraordinary display of soul-searching is going on here on capitol hill as members of congress discuss openly whether they're often heated discourse could be contributing to a culture of violence. >> it's been a much angrier, confrontational and environment over the last two or three years. >> they say i'm right and you're evil. both sides are guilty of this. >> reporter: there is no shortage of recent examples. nevada republican sharron angle spoke of taking up arms against the government. >> people are really looking toward those second amendment remedies.
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>> reporter: florida democrat alan grayson likened his opponent to the taliban. >> the taliban dan webster. >> reporter: and west virginia senator joe manchin fired a rifle at legislation he didn't like. >> isn't it kind of extreme to be firing a gun when you are talking about anyone's agenda. >> in west virginia, if you don't know how to shoot a gun and handle a gun, you probably shouldn't be running for office. >> reporter: congresswoman giffords was one of many who called for an end to the violent imagery. >> when people do that you have to realize there is consequences to that action. >> reporter: her fellow arizona congressman raul gri -- grijalva has himself received death threats. >> i think those-- those disc jockeys and commentators that make a living off of and rating off how much hate and anger they can generate over the airwaves, i think they need to system and pause and see how they contribute to it. >> radio host tammy bruce who calls her sever. >> she's a chick with a gun
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and a microphone. >> reporter: was granted an interview this weekend by a top aide to sarah palin who talked about palin's now infamous campaign web site which placed cross hairs on 20 democratic districts including giffords. >> the graphic is just, it's basic-- we're to the-- we never, ever, ever, intended it to be gun sites t was simply cross hairs like you would see on maps. >> house speaker john boehner led a conference call for more than 800 members and staffers this afternoon. they were told to be vigilant. >> the primary thing here is to make sure that all members are coordinating their efforts with local police officials which a lot of members do routinely. >> house members had been girding for an all-out battle over repealing health care this week. instead, the only legislation they'll be considering is a resolution honoring congresswoman giffords and the other victims, russ. >> nancy corde in washington, thank you very much. still ahead on tonight's
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announcer: ask your doctor if once-daily spiriva is right for you. >> mitchell: as we heard a few minutes ago from nancy cordes the tragedy in tucson is provoking a national debate about the role the heated political climate may have played in the shooting. here to provide perspective is our senior political correspondent jeff greenfield and political analyst john dickerson is washington. good evening to both of you. we will begin with something the chair of-- said yesterday about the overall partisan atmosphere in this country. take a liss. >> vitriol that comes out of certain mos about-- mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. >> mitchell: jeff, i will begin with you. there has always been healthy heated political debate in this country. in your mind are things out of control? >> i think in large measure they're not, in the sense
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that we've always had overwrought speech. politics always talk in militant terms f you go back to see what the founding fathers said about each other, trait ores and immoral. the one area where i think there is cause for concern was captured well by a couple conservatives in 1997 when bill crystal and david brokes-- brooks wrote how can americans love their nation if they hate its government. and what i think ought to be answering-- concerning people is if you describe the government simply as incompetent, corrupt, two big,-- too big, that is one thing. and you will replace them with other leaders, if you describe the government as tyrannical, as equivalent to the nazis or so of yet union, that suggests that almost any means is legitimate to fight it we saw that in the late 60s when some embraced revolutionary rhetoric that suggests bombs and violence were the way to go. you would hate to see that kind of rhetoric fuel that kind of action in our current environment. >> mitchell: when you look at the overall environment now, do you think is possible to turn down the
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volume on this rhetoric? >> it seems awfully difficult because the conversation about the shooting already fits the pattern of all the heated rhetoric that preceded it. so you have liberals pointing immediately to conservatives and saying your harsh rhetoric lead to this kind of business and conserve difficult-- conservatives firing back saying just because i don't like the size of government doesn't link me to a crazy shooter. what is tough is for a politician to engage and try and fix this. they are already aligned with one side. what will probably change things is if one conservative or liberal goes against their own side, speaks out in a way, either in the context of this shooting or a future political fight and resists the temptation to engage in the tit for tat that will get some kind of coverage and maybe other people will follow along. >> we will followup on this and have more conversations i'm sure in the weeks and months ahead. john dicker son in washington, jeff greenfield here in new york, thank you both so much. >> and we'll be back. pain re. plus, children's advil® brings fever down
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>> recapping our top story, the tragedy in tucson, congresswoman gabrielle giffords remains in critical condition from gunshot wounds but doctors are cautiously hopeful. 22-year-old jared loughner has been charged with murder and attempted assassination and the president has called for a moment of silence at 11 a.m. tomorrow eastern time. and that is the "cbs evening news." stay with cbs news for the latest on the shooting and its aftermath including complete coverage first g tomorrow on the early show and on the "cbs evening news" with katie couric. we'll be reporting live from tucson. thanks for joining us this sunday evening. i'm russ mitchell, cbs news in new york. good night. captioning sponsored by cbs captioned by media access group at wgbh
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shooting of a united states congresswoman. how they describe the chaotic scene >> people called 911 seeing the shooting of a united states congresswoman. how they describe the chaotic scene. shooting at this nightclub contribute to a spike in violence that left five people dead in just the first eight days of the new year. and san francisco district attorney used to be the city's top cop. who will be the next police chief? cbs 5 eyewitness news is next. ,,,,


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